News by email Donate


World News

Pope kicks off 'World Children's Day' at Rome's Olympic Stadium

by Reuters Journalist

Pope Francis appeared at Rome's Olympic Stadium on Saturday to provide a symbolic kick-off to a soccer match as part of celebrations for a Vatican-hosted "World Children's Day" festival.

Francis, 87, who has suffered from bouts of poor health, stood up from his chair by the side of the pitch as the ball was presented to him by a child accompanied by former Italian national team goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

The pope, who is from Argentina and a keen soccer fan, gave the ball a gentle tap with his foot before watching the action unfold in a brief kickabout on the field at the stadium, home to the city's professional clubs AS Roma and Lazio.

The match ball was later handed back to the pope for him to  sign.

In response to a question from a child, the pope said he had been very happy when Argentina won the World Cup in 2022. 

But he said he had not enjoyed the notorious handball by Diego Maradona that helped them on their way to victory in the 1986 World Cup. Maradona famously remarked at the time that the quarter-final goal against England was scored "a little with the head of Maradona, a little with the hand of God".

Appearing in high spirits, Francis greeted children representing more than 100 countries, handing out sweets and encouraging those in the stadium to shake hands with each other in a gesture of peace.

Francis had earlier held an audience at the Vatican with children from war-hit regions, including Palestinians and Ukrainians.

The celebrations for the Vatican's inaugural "World Children's Day" continue on Sunday with a special mass at the Vatican followed by a reading by Italian actor Roberto Benigni. 

A Monthly Gift Of $11 Makes A World Of Difference

In a world of fake news there’s never been a greater need for quality Christian journalism. Premier’s mission is to provide the Church with the most up to date and relevant news, told from a Christian perspective. But we can’t do it without you.

Unlike many websites we haven't put up a paywall — we want to keep our journalism free at the point of need and as open as we can. Premier’s news output takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. No one in the USA is sharing news like we are across radio, magazines and online so please help us to continue that today.

For a monthly gift of $11 or more we’d also be able to send you a free copy of the brand new Premier Bible, a wonderful Anglicised version of the NLT packed with exclusive bonus content, reading plan and resources to help you get the most out of scripture.

Your monthly support will make a world of difference. Thank you.

Support Us
Continue the conversation on our Facebook page

Related Articles

Sign up to our newsletter to stay informed with news from a Christian perspective.

News by email